(WASHINGTON) -- Young Americans looking to join the armed forces may have to wait to serve.
The combination of lower recruitment target numbers, a weak economy and the implementation of the GI bill has made waiting lists, officially known as the Delayed Entry Pool, longer than they have been in recent years.
The Marine Corps, which has traditionally had a smaller recruiting base, has fulfilled more than 65 percent of its target for fiscal year 2011. The Army entered the new recruiting year in October having fulfilled 50 percent, or half its targeting goals for next year.
The number is a near record for the Army. The last time in recent decades the waiting list was so long was in 1996, when the Delayed Entry Pool was at 42.9 percent at the start of the fiscal year.
A number of factors are behind the surging numbers. The military has cut back recruitment goals across the board. The Army target, for example, for the fiscal year 2011 is 67,000, lower than 74,500 in 2010 and well below the average recruitment goal of 80,000 between 2005 and 2008.
The economy also plays a crucial part. Unemployment remains relatively high at 9.8 percent, the same level as last year, and among 18-to-24-year-olds -- the Pentagon's prime recruiting age -- it's even higher.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio